Donate to Spinal Muscular Atrophy Research, Patient Care and Education

Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is a disease of the nervous system that affects voluntary nerve movement. Individuals suffering from SMA experience gradual loss of their spinal nerve cells, or motor neurons, that stimulate muscle contraction.  Without the stimulation from motor neurons, the body’s muscles cannot contract, causing them to atrophy, or shrink. SMA is caused by a genetic mutation of chromosomes inherited from both parents.

Symptoms of spinal muscular atrophy can begin to manifest at any time across the lifespan, though the majority of those afflicted exhibit symptoms in infancy or early childhood. With your generous donation, specialists at Northwestern Medicine will be able to further advance diagnostic treatment options for patients afflicted with SMA.

SMA symptomology varies greatly depending on the stage, severity, and age of genetic mutation onset. Depending on the level of mutation, SMA symptoms can range from inability to swallow to severe spine curvature. The muscles closest to the core of the body are most affected by SMA.

Other SMA symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing and swallowing in infancy
  • Muscle weakness and immobility
  • Difficulty sitting or standing
  • Scoliosis, or curvature of the spine
  • Severe respiratory issues

Blood, nerve and genetic testing are procedures that physicians at Northwestern Medicine use to confirm a diagnosis of SMA In severe cases, muscle biopsies may also be obtained to ascertain the level of mutated proteins in the nerves. While there is currently no cure for SMA, teams of physicians, therapists and other healthcare providers at Northwestern Medicine can help those struggling with SMA through the use of medications, respiratory and mobility devices, and intensive physical therapy.

Spinal Muscular Atrophy Research, Patient Care and Education

Please consider making a donation to Northwestern Memorial Foundation to advance research and clinical trials aimed at increasing diagnostic treatment options for those afflicted with Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

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